San Patrizio a Colle Prenestino is a 21st century parish church at Via Caiazzo 74 in the suburb of Colle Prenestino, which is on the Via Prenestina east of the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Circonvallazione Orientale). This is part of the Acqua Vergine zone.
The dedication is to St Patrick.
The small suburb, rather isolated from the main built-up area, was illegally developed in the Sixties by the simple expedient of the landowners concerned subdividing farming land.
The parish was set up in 1975, but had to wait for its church. The temporary place of worship was a converted garage, and was completely unsuitable. The delay in providing a permanent replacement became unacceptable to the worshipping community, so the priest and people conducted a successful public campaign to facilitate matters. They were fortunate, because the total catchment population is on the low side for a fully functioning parish.
The new church was designed by Maicher Biagini, begun in 2003 and completed in 2007. It is part of a larger community centre, as funding for new churches in the outer suburbs is more readily available if the sporting and social needs of the wider community are addressed as well.
There seems to have been a problem with the sanctuary end of the building recently, which has been altered structurally. This took place after 2012, but has been kept rather quiet. The campanile has also been altered.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church has a straightforward modern design, based on a rectangular plan. It is basically a flat-roofed box with the walls forming a low parapet, and revetted in limestone slabs. Courses of thin slabs are inserted into the revetting, giving a horizontally striped effect.
The roof has a large transverse rectangular gazebo skylight which throws light on the sanctuary inside.
The left hand side has a lower flat-roofed range abutting, interrupted by a blank-walled and flat-topped cylinder which is not striped. This has a skylight in the form of a glass cone. The front end of the range has a side entrance, and the two side walls separated by the cylinder each has a long horizontal rectangular window, rather low down.
This left hand range does not occupy the full length of the side wall, but stops at a large window at the back. The far left hand corner is also in glass, being occupied by two window strips reaching the full height.
The ancillary accommodation is in red brick mostly. The main social services block is beyond the far right hand corner of the church, but is joined by a wing to two blocks appended to the right hand side wall of the church. The nearer one is almost square, but the far one is trapezoidal and the two are separated by a courtyard. This latter space accesses a glass screen inserted into the church side wall, containing a side entrance.
Above these two red brick blocks, a gallery revetted in limestone is attached to the church wall below the roof. The near block has its own entrance arrangements in the form of a cubical lobby attached to the right hand side of the church façade, and this is also revetted.
Behind the church is a pleasant enclosed garden occupying a second, larger courtyard.
An tall white concrete tower campanile stands alone to the left of the church's entrance piazza. It consists of two tall slabs meeting at right angles. About a third of the height of each slab, somewhat below their horizontal tops, are cut away in two huge rectangles meeting at the corner and filled with metal grilles. The corner is cut away also just above and below this feature.
The impressive set of bells are hung behind the grille, in the angle. The metalwork of the grille seems to have been replaced recently in a different style.
The entrance frontage is in the stripy white stone revetting, with a horizontal floating canopy over the entrance bearing a dedicatory inscription on its fascia (D.O.M. in honorem S. Patricii). It is supported on two steel columns, clad in stone to form square piers (the metal is visible at the tops). The canopy shelters a cuboidal porch having three entrance doors, the middle one being larger and reaching the full height.
There is a very narrow and long horizontal slit window above the canopy, intersected by a shorter vertical slit so as to produce a cross motif.
The interior has the lower walls mostly in red brick, with the upper walls and ceiling in white. The latter has a curve above the main entrance, containing the two cross-slits visible in the entrance. It also has a large circular recessed panel in the centre, containing concealed lighting.
The windows are clear plate glass.
The sanctuary is raised on a platform with two steps, and has an altar which is a limestone block in an inverted trapezoidal form with incurved sides. Behind, the upper back wall leans out in a slope to the ceiling except for a recessed section backed by a vertical face. This contains two vertical rectangular slit windows flanking a crucifix.
This sloping wall section used to be hanging over an alcove, but something went wrong structurally and it now has an arcade of three arches supported on four columns. The central arch is "stretched", with a flat top. The columns are Doric, in a dull orange with dark red capitals and bases which have their moldings gilded. They add a welcome touch of colour to the church.
The sanctuary area might contain a large statue of St Patrick in a green robe, but this is not fixed -it is used in processions.
The back wall within the arcade used to have an icon in strict Byzantine style depicting Noli me tangere (Christ and St Mary Magdalen after the Resurrection), but this has been replaced by a larger icon in the same style of The Last Supper. Also, in the spandrels of the arches have been attached four tondi containing iconic portraits of four saints -either doctors of the Church or the Evangelists (they are generically depicted, holding books).
This church perhaps has little of architectural or artistic interest to attract the visitor, but it has been a very welcome addition to the amenities of a small and rather isolated suburb which has waited decades for an adequate place of worship.
Mass is celebrated, according to the Diocese and the parish website (July 2018):
Weekdays 8:30, 18:00 (19:00 in DST, apparently not in July or August);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00 (not in July or August), 11:30 (not in July or August),19:00.
There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after the evening Mass on Fridays.